How to Make Ceviche

Sushi lovers know that there’s nothing quite like the taste, texture, and utter refreshment that only raw seafood can offer. But the Japanese aren’t the only experts in using the fruit of the sea to make delectable raw cuisine: South and Central Americans are incredibly skilled, as well. Case in point: Ceviche!

Ceviche

Although the debate continues around the true birthplace of ceviche, most culinary research points to its originating in Peru (no doubt influenced by the citrus fruits brought to South America from Spain in colonial times). Ceviche is such a major part of Peru’s national heritage, the country even declared a holiday in its honor! (If only we could have more official holidays dedicated to food here in the U.S.!) To prepare ceviche, raw seafood—ideally shrimp, fish, calamari, or scallops—is immersed in equal parts lemon, lime, or orange juices to be “cooked” by the citric acid in the juices. This technique of “marinating” delicate raw seafood (without heat) in certain liquids to make them safe to eat has been used since the times of the Inca Empire. Only something pretty delicious can withstand that test of time!

Good ceviche will taste like the freshest dish you’ve ever eaten, and will be bright and colorful, yet simple. Nowadays, there are as many variations of the dish as there are countries where you can find citrus fruits and salt (the only two key ingredients in every recipe). Additional ingredients can include garlic, onion, spicy pepper, and cilantro, but other diced up vegetables often get thrown in, too. Once the marinating process is finished and the ceviche ready to eat, it can be served with a multitude of sides and garnishes, from tortilla chips or plantain chips to avocado or marinated onions.

Want to turn your kitchen into a cevichería for the evening? Try out these versions of traditional ceviche for yourself, or switch up some of the ingredients to find your perfect recipe! (Since nothing in this dish is cooked, use the freshest ingredients you can get.)

Fish Ceviche

  • 1 lb. fillet of red snapper, tilapia, mahi-mahi, halibut, or grouper, cut into half-inch pieces
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • Juice of 2 oranges or 3 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup cucumber, seeded and diced
  • ½ cup minced red onion
  • 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, diced (optional)
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper

Place the fish in a bowl or nonreactive container and pour the citrus juices over it. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for an hour to an hour and half—long enough for the fish to become white. When time’s up, gently squeeze the fish to remove the excess juice, and discard the juice. Add the remaining ingredients (including the chile, if using) to the bowl and fold them together gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with chunks of avocado and chips on the side.

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche

  • ½ lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into half-inch pieces
  • ½ lb. bay or diver scallops, cleaned and cut to the same size as the shrimp
  • Juice of 6 limes
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ½ cup diced mango (we like a lot of mango!)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, diced (optional)
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper

Add the shrimp and scallops to a bowl or nonreactive container and submerge in the lime juice. Refrigerate for about an hour or until the shrimp and scallops become opaque. When ready, discard the excess lime juice and add the remaining ingredients (including the chile, if using), folding together gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with chunks of avocado and chips on the side.